Operations Process Improvement

Lochinvar LLC


Values Operations storyFor as long as anyone could remember, Tank Line 2 had a bottleneck: the old-style submerged arc welding (SAW) girth welder, which required two or three weld passes to complete each tank. The team saw a solution: gas metal arc welding (GMAW) with the Miller Hercules weld system.

GMAW Hercules is new technology that uses weld wire preheating to achieve high deposition and high-quality welds beyond what was previously attainable. Implementing this new GMAW process would allow for the welding of all the Line 2 tanks and some of the smaller products from Line 1 in a single pass weld. 

2022.06.22 Values Button"The team came together at a site acceptance test (SAT) and adapted the weld parameters and seam tracking to be successful in the hydro testing performed on Line 2," said weld engineer Nate Sardakowski, project team leader. "Initially the weld profiles were too thin to completely tie-in the head and tank shell, especially at the long seam-to-girth seam junction."

The Servo Robot laser seam tracking system required the team to learn new software and understanding of how the seam tracking system controls the weld location and quality.

"The team really came together around implementing this new piece of equipment and stretched our knowledge and skill set in a way that will benefit each individual and our Lochinvar team," Nate said.

Since implementation, the team has increased throughput capacity on Line 2 by 178%, enabling production flexibility and allowing for overflow capacity from Line 1. Overall, the efficiency of the entire Tank Plant is improved. 

"Our selection committee chose this project because it resolved a longstanding bottleneck in Tank Line 2, by cutting weld passes from two or three down to a single pass," said Kevin Wheeler, chairman, president & CEO. "The single weld is not only far more efficient, it’s of a higher quality, setting Lochinvar apart from its competitors in the pressure vessel manufacturing market."

"Our team was very honored to receive this award and proud of our entire Lochinvar team that came together to make this a success," Nate said. "The support that we received from every functional department made this project shine as it has and will continue into the future."

2022.06.22 Values Recognition OPERATIONSLeft to Right: Allen Fennell, Kevin Wheeler, Nate Sardakowski, Travis Knapp, Adam Ray, Steve O'Brien, CJ Vaden, Sam Carver. Not pictured: Ross Brawner. © 2022 Aaron Johnson for A. O. Smith Corporation.

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